I-90 Interchange Improvement Project & West Station | Allston

Tallguy

New member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
56
Reaction score
1
There is a difference between bad geometry and bad planning. Yes, we can expect better than that. We should expect better than that. We must demand better than that.
And still, the Harvard Line will need SOME way of crossing the Mass Pike. Providing for that now is the only sane thing to do. But we are dealing with people who think that GJs future is CR, not GL. That is physically and politically impossible. It has already been studied. Can't do it without, to paraphrase F Line, a mega-carpocalypse!
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
370
Reaction score
3
But we are dealing with people who think that GJs future is CR, not GL. That is physically and politically impossible.
I don't know you can say that. It's being used by the Commuter Rail now as it is, and you could even run service up there with no modifications, although it wouldn't make sense without a Kendall platform.

I'd actually be worried that Cambridge will use this opportunity to completely dismantle the Junction since you would be talking about 10+ years out of service. I think they would prefer it to be a walking trail.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
3,938
Reaction score
155
I don't know you can say that. It's being used by the Commuter Rail now as it is, and you could even run service up there with no modifications, although it wouldn't make sense without a Kendall platform.

I'd actually be worried that Cambridge will use this opportunity to completely dismantle the Junction since you would be talking about 10+ years out of service. I think they would prefer it to be a walking trail.
Fortunately for the GJ, the City of Cambridge cannot dismantle it, as it does not own it.
 

sm89

Active Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2014
Messages
857
Reaction score
5
Fortunately for the GJ, the City of Cambridge cannot dismantle it, as it does not own it.
The City is also designing the Grand Junction path enough room for two tracks for whenever the MBTA is ready to build them.
 

Tallguy

New member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
56
Reaction score
1
The City is also designing the Grand Junction path enough room for two tracks for whenever the MBTA is ready to build them.
Two tracks of LRT. There are several major roadways crossing at grade, including Mass Ave. The occasional
equipment move that goes on now leaves a path of traffic destruction behind it. You just can't do it 4-5x ph every day. And you can't build viaducts over/under because of tight building clearances. LRT is more agile and can climb a much higher grade, making bridge approaches more possible. In the places where you can't eliminate the grade, LRT leaves a much, much smaller footprint on traffic. And the MBTA knows it. Look at the Tim Murray effort a few years ago. GL or BRT are the only possible future for GJ
 

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
370
Reaction score
3
The City is also designing the Grand Junction path enough room for two tracks for whenever the MBTA is ready to build them.
I remember hearing that, but I'm looking at the satellite imagery on Google Maps and that isn't realistic at all. Even two tracks with no path would be a tight fit.
 

sm89

Active Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2014
Messages
857
Reaction score
5
I remember hearing that, but I'm looking at the satellite imagery on Google Maps and that isn't realistic at all. Even two tracks with no path would be a tight fit.
It's not conjecture; the width is already being acquired. The path will be 10-14ft in width with 2ft shoulders on each side and room for two tracks. It's not shovel ready, but aside from the city-owned land, the only takings are MassDOT, MIT and Alexandria land, and the latter two have committed to making a deal as part of mitigation for their nearby construction projects.

https://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Transportation/GrandJunctionPathway
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,277
Reaction score
282
Whoa. Something I had suggested/pondered if they were considering here:
http://www.archboston.org/community/showpost.php?p=344728&postcount=1010

Regarding using the supports of the viaduct being over the westbound pike lane to put up a sound deadening wall to essentially enclose the pike in a tunnel... with the wall from the ground to the road deck, has shown up in the recent plans. Great to see that this was in fact planned if this option is chosen. This will make it muuuuch more bearable for people on the bike/walking path.

The westbound pike lane is basically inside a tunnel and the east bound lane is essentially in a “trench” between the grand junction tracks and sfr viaduct which will mean youre not feet away from a roaring highway while on the path. Then trees, bushes...etc could be used to block much of it from view solving the looks and sound problem both. Then add ped walkways over it to BU and this is a massive improvement for everybody once complete.

Youll get sound from the elevated sfr, but thats a million times better than 6 lanes of open at grade highway roaring past just feet away. This is why the sfr westbound option is the right one, the roadbed above blocks sound from the top of the highway and the sound wall blocks the side. The other option leaves the top open with just a wall separating the noise.









https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/06/19/dot-allstonTaskForce_052319.pdf
 
Last edited:

Charlie_mta

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
1,431
Reaction score
17
You'll still have the westbound Pike roaring by a few feet from the paths, because once SFR is fully above the WB Pike the wall disappears and there are just bridge posts there. What they should do is continue the wall through this portion, thus sound-separating the paths from the Pike's WB lanes.
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,277
Reaction score
282
Yea, but thats still 100x better than not having it at all for the pike portion. I agree though and said that in the first post I had made and included in the response.
 

etik

New member
Joined
Dec 1, 2017
Messages
35
Reaction score
25
Alon Levy has a blog post skeptical about the current plans for West Station. His thesis is that the station is trying to do too many different things at once, and therefore fails at its core purpose.

I think he makes some good points but I have a few questions. He suggests getting rid of the freight line in the plan, but my understanding is that the Grand Junction line will be seeing freight traffic in the near future. a) Would that preclude Grand Junction freight traffic? and b) is that a reasonable goal?

What do the folks here think?
 

millerm277

Active Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
201
Reaction score
9
Alon Levy has a blog post skeptical about the current plans for West Station. His thesis is that the station is trying to do too many different things at once, and therefore fails at its core purpose.

I think he makes some good points but I have a few questions. He suggests getting rid of the freight line in the plan, but my understanding is that the Grand Junction line will be seeing freight traffic in the near future. a) Would that preclude Grand Junction freight traffic? and b) is that a reasonable goal?

What do the folks here think?

I'm certainly not qualified to assess a track layout in depth. Some of the points I see that I'm skeptical of:

- Hudson Yards was so expensive for a number of obvious reasons. They were building in Manhattan. For the deck, they were building on top of an extremely tightly packed, active rail yard that had to be kept mostly in service, which made all of that construction and staging extremely complicated. Allston is basically a blank slate in comparison. And the future railyard that may be there if you're doing things after that fact will not have the extreme level of importance that West Side Yard has to NY Penn.

- Pretty sure the railyard is desired to support daytime layovers for future service growth, isn't it? Having trains out in Framingham or Worcester is the opposite of where you want to have to put them for evening rush?

- The T's design (mostly) makes sense if you envision the neighborhood becoming a huge source of ridership (and potentially demanding additional new bus routes) and not just as a transfer point for existing service. Given how the Seaport's gone and with Boston Landing overperforming ridership estimates, I'm not sure that going big is the wrong move for the scope of what'll probably wind up on the adjacent sites in the future.

Some of what I agree with upon thinking about it:

- I agree that I'm not sure I like the existing busway plan, the diagrams previously presented of Cambridge-bound buses having to loop around it look like awkward and time-wasting movements. https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/05/21/Allston_FMCB_052019.pdf (slide 13/14). Reworking that to let buses drop off in their direction of travel seems better.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
5,308
Reaction score
123
Alon Levy has a blog post skeptical about the current plans for West Station. His thesis is that the station is trying to do too many different things at once, and therefore fails at its core purpose.

I think he makes some good points but I have a few questions. He suggests getting rid of the freight line in the plan, but my understanding is that the Grand Junction line will be seeing freight traffic in the near future. a) Would that preclude Grand Junction freight traffic? and b) is that a reasonable goal?

What do the folks here think?
There is no longer any regularly-scheduled freight on the Grand Junction or on the Worcester Line inbound of Framingham Jct. CSX job B721 to 2 customers at Everett Terminal has been outsourced to Pan Am for about a year now on what's known as a "haulage" agreement, which saves CSX the expense of having to chew costs running all the way from Framingham and back 6 days a week. The Everett customers are still CSX signees, but Pan Am tacks them onto the back of their own separate Everett train and delivers the cars to CSX in Worcester or Ayer (wherever the scheduled handoff is that given day). Pan Am gets a cut of the proceeds for doing the (easy) work, while CSX gains ability to route larger "Plate E" cars to/from Everett via Pan Am's Lowell Line clearance route...instead of being hamstrung to smaller "Plate B" cars by the extremely tight vertical clearances on the GJ due to the Memorial Dr. overpass.

However, by retaining full rights to serve Everett CSX can take that job back and start running on the Grand Junction again if it feels Pan Am is not providing good/timely service. And since the refrigerated loads of food from New England Produce Center are perishable, timely is a must.

This haulage agreement was able to come into place because of some quid pro quos to upgrade the Worcester-Ayer route that Pan Am owns and CSX has overhead trackage rights over (i.e. can run nonstop but can't serve local customers). CSX was given a bigger share of dispatching responsibility and time slots on that branch to sweeten its pot, while MassDOT is expected to make a stealthy buy of the branch in the next year and spread around badly-needed track rebuilds.

Should the state want to take the Grand Junction offline to convert to BRT or LRT, extinguishing the CSX rights shouldn't be a big issue. Though rights over the GJ and Eastern Route cost CSX $0...and thus would normally be very hard to dislodge with any "Go Away" cheques to a corporation with a $62B market cap...the state would be able to square it by chucking more upgrade money at the Worcester-Ayer branch and negotiating (with Pan Am as third wheel) new overhead operating rights inbound of Ayer on the Fitchburg Line so they can retain direct rainy-day Everett rights from a new routing. Worcester-Ayer-Somerville-Everett may seem a little convoluted on spec, but the fact that it retains the same "Plate E" clearance rating as the Pan Am routing constitutes an overall upgrade over the GJ for self-serving Everett. Therefore, it's a trade $62B CSX would readily accept in exchange for extinguishing their GJ rights with a filing in front of the Surface Transportation Board.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
5,308
Reaction score
123
I'm certainly not qualified to assess a track layout in depth. Some of the points I see that I'm skeptical of:

- Hudson Yards was so expensive for a number of obvious reasons. They were building in Manhattan. For the deck, they were building on top of an extremely tightly packed, active rail yard that had to be kept mostly in service, which made all of that construction and staging extremely complicated. Allston is basically a blank slate in comparison. And the future railyard that may be there if you're doing things after that fact will not have the extreme level of importance that West Side Yard has to NY Penn.
The only reason the Beacon Park layover yard still exists is that the T has the easement under lock-and-key here...but does not have the FAR BETTER layover site at Widett Circle in-hand. BP has room for only 8 trainsets, which isn't anywhere close to enough to serve central-district layover needs and which will require so much deadheading between South Station and BP that it may cause traffic conflicts at Yawkey and Back Bay. It's space-invasive and ops-sucky. But it's all they have right now.

The Widett 'bowl' would have room for 32 trainsets and be track-spaced for a complete air rights cover-over. Ridiculously superior. And before another transpo blogger masquerading as real estate kingmaker (Ari Osevit, I'm looking your way) shits all over the idea because of the utter simplistic falsehood "NSRL doesn't require downtown yards because trains never stop running"...when the time comes for run-thru service and you can shave back (NOT zero-out) downtown storage, there's 3 immediate adjacent bus garages you could start consolidating on the ground level of the 'bowl' instead. This is absolutely the 100-year solution they need to be going guns-blazing at.

And there's some anecdotal evidence that the T is trying to get its hands on the Food Market, cold storage, and BTD tow lot parcels to set up the 100-year fix. But every pol, businessperson, and media member with influence in downtown has got their fingers in the pot over that one. Including a lot of the Boston 2024 has-beens who once thought an upper-level stadium with lower-level parking built whole by one "Master Developer" paying all decking costs and assuming all risks was a sweller idea over taking the ground-level transpo easement as a down-payment on the decking. Something about that parcel just seems to make important people bleed stupid all over instead of looking for the most direct way to get a job done. So unfortunately the T is being stampeded by all this interference, and the For Sale signs on all those properties are starting to turn yellow from all the gridlock.

In the meantime, the T has to keep pumping out more useless renders of a BP layover yard it would much love to delete entirely and pocket some more money from Harvard. They don't even need this space in-hand for future EMU maintenance shops if Widett handles storage, because Readville has more than enough expansion space for that and shops don't have to be as close to the terminals as yards. But they don't have a choice. The mess everyone else is making out of a coulda-been basic transaction at Widett ends up making a mess out of the BP/West planning.

- Pretty sure the railyard is desired to support daytime layovers for future service growth, isn't it? Having trains out in Framingham or Worcester is the opposite of where you want to have to put them for evening rush?
Not future growth, current shortfall. The T's current layup tracks at the fringes of Widett are too short to handle monster 7-8 car consists, so they have to bogart space at Amtrak Southampton Yard to fit those. It's been a 15-year war with Amtrak and the T over bogarting that space, and Amtrak is going to tell them to scram when their new equipment orders allow for Acela and Regionals schedule expansion. So unfortunately unless there's resolution on a different layover site BP's going to be deadheading a lot of Providence sets back inbound in addition to the Worcesters for rush.

Levy's "put 'em all in Framingham" missive lacks understanding of how the T schedule works and just assumes "if it's T it must be stupid, so. . .". I'm going to assume here he just didn't have that uniquely local factoid at-hand, because he's usually not that ops-obtuse.

- The T's design (mostly) makes sense if you envision the neighborhood becoming a huge source of ridership (and potentially demanding additional new bus routes) and not just as a transfer point for existing service. Given how the Seaport's gone and with Boston Landing overperforming ridership estimates, I'm not sure that going big is the wrong move for the scope of what'll probably wind up on the adjacent sites in the future.
No, but it's clearly not finished given the whole yard dilemma and the placement askew from the street grid that doesn't infill the bus access. They probably needed to spend more time on this render. And much as MassDOT would rather stay hands-off from all the political free-for-all with the Widett parcels and avoid it contaminating a wholly separate project like the Pike, it's painfully obvious that lack of progress a mile east at Widett is affecting the quality of the canvas at West. They don't have infinite time to delete/redesign the yard should their preferred parcels come available, and they don't have infinite time to massage the surroundings in these renders before they actually have to build it with the yard provision locked-in. OK...we're not quite there yet, but it's still floating around in neutral and leaving a somewhat disconnected look to this space.

Some of what I agree with upon thinking about it:

- I agree that I'm not sure I like the existing busway plan, the diagrams previously presented of Cambridge-bound buses having to loop around it look like awkward and time-wasting movements. https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/05/21/Allston_FMCB_052019.pdf (slide 13/14). Reworking that to let buses drop off in their direction of travel seems better.
Yeah...it's a mess. Maybe there's a logic to it I'm not seeing, but I'm a little baffled that they sketched it out like they did because it doesn't seem logical at all.

The track layout is overly complicated, too. I agree with Levy there...too many damn crossovers, and insane amount of infrastructure duplication to put it all on a turnout far away from the mainline with the yard sandwiched in between. This would be so much easier without the yard...or with the yard on ONE side (any one side) instead of in the middle. T southside ops must be ready to vomit looking at this spaghetti mess.



I dunno...lot of stuff on the plan looks good, lesser amounts of stuff on the plan looks bad. But it's getting a bit close to crunch-time for such large parts of it to be...so unformed at this juncture. Like, I can feel very optimistic yet have a real queasy feeling that they're going to screw up something major...both at the same time.
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
6,836
Reaction score
82
There is no longer any regularly-scheduled freight on the Grand Junction or on the Worcester Line inbound of Framingham Jct. CSX job B721 to 2 customers at Everett Terminal has been outsourced to Pan Am for about a year now on what's known as a "haulage" agreement......

However, by retaining full rights to serve Everett CSX can take that job back and start running on the Grand Junction again if it feels Pan Am is not providing good/timely service. And since the refrigerated loads of food from New England Produce Center are perishable, timely is a must.
F-Line as usual in all things rail you are very thorough

However you misstated one item [with my highlight in bold]
However, by retaining full rights to serve Everett CSX can take that job back and start running on the Grand Junction again if it feels Pan Am is not providing good/timely service. And since the refrigerated loads of food from New England Produce Center are perishable, timely is a must.
The in-operative word is From New England Produce Center is one of those one-way kind of customers -- it receives food in bulk by rail from mainly the west and south -- repackages it and the food is then distributed by truck to retailers and some other wholesalers

Thus -- since the food has been traveling for many days already when it gets near to Everett [e.g. lettuce from California Central Valley] -- a few more hours are not important and Timely is not a Must
 

Top